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Wednesday Morning Rockpile: There's still a chance

While Monday was the pessimistic sell everything post, today will be the optimistic, let's not jump off this bandwagon just yet post. Or maybe it won't be. I don't know yet, I haven't gotten to the end.

Okay, what we have here is a team that had a losing April and a losing May, and that after eight games has a winning June. The problem that I have to get around is that it just wasn't that we lost in April in May, but we lost by a lot. We were creamed, we looked terrible, we played terrible, the team was flat out terrible. Period. There can be no argument about that.

In our glorious 2007, we had a similar April, but we actually came back with a winning May, and had winning months the rest of the year. It was a good team, in other words, similar to the 2006 Twins, for instance, that followed the same pattern. Now the positive correlation to the 2007 Rockies and 2006 Twins is that we haven't fallen that far behind the leader yet, but that doesn't get around the fact that we have been absolutely terrible over two months of the season when each of those teams had only one terrible month.

A better trailblazer to follow this time around would instead be the 2005 Astros who were similarly sinking throughout April and May. So here are my three big issues:

  1. 18 games under .500 on June 2nd. As far as I can tell, there's never been an MLB team come back to make the playoffs from that deep a hole. The 2005 Astros were 15 games under at their deepest. Perhaps a better source for "but it can happen" reassurance would be the 1914 Braves, who were still only 16 games under on June 8 when they started their comeback, and with a 144 game schedule, they had less space than we do. So yeah, I guess it can happen.
  2. No miracle drug. The 2005 Astros turnaround happened to coincide with the arrival of Roger Clemens, the Twins 2006 comeback started when they inserted Francisco Liriano into the rotation. The Rockies don't seem to have an ace in the hole like that. That said, maybe the ace in the hole doesn't need to be a pitcher. A healthy and productive Tulo would accomplish the same trick. Ryan Spilborghs getting the bulk of playing time in center might as well. Brad Hawpe returning to form... the Rockies ace in the hole might actually just be that the lineup performs as it's capable.
  3. Even allowing that there's no miracle ace, the rotation is still suspect. Jeff Francis and Ubaldo Jimenez have both been so-so for most of their last few starts. That might not be saying much, but they were horrible early in the season so it's actually an improvement. Greg Reynolds has been right on par with them. All three of them are putting up fifth starter type of numbers lately, and none have seemed eager to rise to mid-rotation caliber of play to back up Cook. Even with an improving offense, this is a big mental wall for me to cross, and I need to see two starters besides Cook step up with consistent sharp outings before my optimism gets fully restored. We can conceivably get there with three good starters and two that are so-so. One is simply not enough.

At any rate, the Rockies have to look like they did last night for the remainder of the season. We don't have to win every game we play in, but we've got to look like a team that's capable of winning every game at least. In April and May, we simply didn't have it.